I am often asked for ways to help improve an elder’s appearance. Even if your elder is healthy, he or she might neglect physical appearance. In some cases, it has been years since anyone paid close attention to your elder’s physical appearance, and a little bit of attention goes a long way. Bring your elder to the hairdresser or barber. Give her a regular pedicure and manicure. If you can afford it, a facial can be a real treat.
Make sure he or she has enough clothing that is appropriate for the various seasons. If your elder has outdated styles or incorrect sizes give them to a charity or throw them away, but be sure to ask first. Travel to a local mall or go online to shop for new clothes and shoes. Comfortable shoes at this stage of the game are a must. If your elder is female, buy her new makeup. I’m often shocked to find that many elder women have either run out of makeup or only have lipstick leftover from 1978. If you have a teen daughter, bring her along and make it a fun trip for three generations.
Buy your elder a hand mirror so she can look at himself or herself. It really does have a positive effect if he or she is more conscious of his or her looks. Buy your elder a new winter scarf and polish his or her shoes. You can even just buy your elder a new toothbrush—the little things make a big difference. Also, be sure to clean his or her wheelchair, walker, and/or cane, as necessary.
The fit of clothing is important as well, because improper clothing often restricts your elder’s movements. Clothing must not be torn, or too tight or loose. When your elder sits down, the waistline must be flexible so it doesn’t bind him or her. If he or she has a tough time keeping his or her pants up, sew little buttons on the inside or give your elder suspenders to wear. I’m a big believer in Velcro, since it provides more flexibility and room. I also suggest buying shoes with Velcro straps instead of laces so it’s easier to slip them on and off. If your elder has difficulty with motor control, teach him or her how to put on socks and shoes again. This can help to maintain a feeling of independence, and can really make a big difference.
Dr. Marion is currently on a bus tour, crisscrossing the country to talk with seniors and caregivers. Her advice: it’s never too soon to start planning for long-term care needs and costs. You can follow the tour on Dr. Marion’s blog: http://drmarion.com/blog
Dr. Marion Somers, Ph.D., has more than 40 years of experience as a geriatric care manager and caregiver, and as an author, speaker and teacher regarding elder care and other elder issues. With the senior generation living longer than ever before, Dr. Marion believes we are on the verge of an “elder care tsunami.” After decades of working directly with seniors and their caregivers, Dr. Marion launched a public effort to provide practical tools, solutions and advice to those struggling with caring for our aging population. She is the author of “Elder Care Made Easier: Doctor Marion’s 10 Steps to Help You Care for an Aging Loved One” and creator of two iPhone apps: Elder411 and Elder911. For more information, visit www.drmarion.com
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